I missed screaming. When I taught in upstate New York, I used to pick up my little nieces on Saturday mornings and take them with me to the car wash. We pretended we were in a horror film. By the time those big steamy, sudsy strips started slapping the car, we were in full-throated screams. Their little eyes bugged out, veins popped in their dear necks, bodies arched against their car seat straps. Sometimes we’d go through again. I would return them to their Mom, and rasp, “See you next Saturday.”
They are now in their 30s and have told me that in my honor, they continued the tradition with their brother’s little girls. I feel I have done my job.
My New Year’s resolution is to scream more. I told a friend about it on a walk in the woods in Provincetown a few days into January. She asked, “How about now?” Though swaddled in a full-snowmobile onesie, with face muffled in a double helix infinity scarf, she demonstrated impressive pipes. We had just finished blistering a gnarly live oak, when an Irish setter bounded up to us, with his worried owner a few steps behind.
We quickly assured him we were OK. I explained my New Year’s resolution. He said, “Mind if I join in?”
Mine is not primal scream therapy. It is primary scream therapy. Why do the lovely white people of Iowa and New Hampshire always get to start the presidential vetting process? I know I should be grateful that we don’t have to watch political ads in New York State. Toe fungus ads and that mute, animated, pink pile of intestines in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome ad are our versions of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
At dinners with friends, by about the 129th theory in the “How Did Trump Happen?” parlor game, I am curled in the corner, frozen in an Edvard Munch Scream. Theory #34: Trump wanted to get booted out of the GOP, so he said those despicable things about Mexicans, about John McCain’s patriotism, and women who menstruate. Theory #67: Trump is the anger translator for the middle class. Theory #121: It’s a year-long Joaquin-Phoenix-type hoax for a documentary Trump has commissioned about his yugeness.
Polls make we want to scream. Their predictive reliability is equal to the recent winter storm forecasting. At one time, several accumulation predictions for my area ranged from one-to-three inches of snow to Snowzilla. The crawl below the storm information seemed to suggest that if neither of those things happened, Michael Bloomberg would step in to save the day. Pollsters should be made to stand in raging blizzards for hours to give their findings.
My dear partner’s antidote for anger is action. She has suggested I go door-knocking for my sister-in-spirit, Hillary Clinton. Her suggestion is half-hearted. We both know it could end with my assigned door-knocking buddy dragging me away from the slammed door of an Iowa farmhouse. Me banging my clipboard shrieking, “You’re delusional. Why do you hate women so much? Oh yeah? Enjoy your government farm subsidies. Hey pal, two words: Supreme Court.” I have fantasized many uses for that arrow in Hillary’s logo.
It is hard to find a place in New York City to scream. But I do it. If anyone notices, I invite them to join me. If they look like they are about to report me, I tell them I’m Jamie Lee Curtis from the show, “Scream Queens.”
Kate Clinton is a longtime humorist. She writes regularly for the Blade.